For The Answer
Weekly Express-News Article
By Calvin R. Finch, PhD, SAWS Water Resources Director, and HorticulturistSaturday,
June 10, 2006
“We May Escape Drought Restrictions”
We got a reprieve from drought restrictions with the rain we received last week. In fact, at least one planner at the San Antonio Water System (SAWS) thinks that we now have a good chance to escape restrictions entirely if we continue to be reasonable on the amount of water we use on our lawns.
Last week we discussed the importance of using mulch to reduce
evaporation of water from the soil.
How you water is also important.
Sprinklers that spray a fine spray of water into the air may
only provide 40% of that water to the landscape.
As soothing as it is to watch one of those sprinklers that
sprays from left to straight up and then to the right, they are wasteful
and should be replaced. Save it in the storage shed to use for the grandchildren
when they want to run through the sprinkler. For effective lawn watering, use as apparatus
that sprays a horizontal stream of coarse drops. It is also important to irrigate only between
8:00 p.m., and 10:00 a.m., when evaporation rates and wind are lowest. In
Many of us have in ground sprinkler systems. If the systems are designed and adjusted perfectly, and your soil depths and light characteristics on your lawn are exactly the same, the irrigation system may apply a perfect amount of water to keep the lawn green without wasting water! It is unlikely, and, in fact, if the lawn is perfectly green you should be suspicious that you are adding more water than you should. Think about it. By cutting back to the point when the hottest, driest part of the lawn shows symptoms of a little water stress, you can often reduce the amount of water by thousands of gallons each time you sprinkle. The savings may translate to $100 on your water bill each month in the summer.
Instead of applying enough water to meet the needs of the hottest point in the lawn with the shallowest soil, water enough to satisfy most of the lawn. Hand water the limited area that looks dry or use a soaker hose. The leaky hose is especially effective if the dry strip is a long piece of turf right against the curb or driveway.
Running the soaker use for an hour or more may sound like it would use lots of water, but it is not so. If the faucet is turned ¼ to ½ turn it “sweats” the water out at the right rate without danger of runoff.
I like the recycled leaky hoses, but the same water efficiencies can be achieved by using a green soaker hose turned over so the water is applied directly to the ground.
Since we have brought up leaky hoses, keep them in mind for other irrigation needs in your landscape. They apply the water directly to the ground with very little evaporation; they are considered drip irrigation and are not regulated in “Stage One” of drought restrictions. Use the leaky hoses to water the vegetable garden, flower borders, and newly planted trees and shrubs. Remember the advice about only turning the spigot ¼ to ½ turn. The water is emitted from leaky hoses depending on the pressure. Turn the faucet on full blast and it will be like running the water out of the end of the hose.
If we are all careful about our water use over the rest of the summer and Mother Nature cooperates, we have a good chance to escape restrictions for another year.